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Free printing to end as University completes transition to pay system


The University is in the process of unveiling a new printing system (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily).
The University is in the process of unveiling a new printing system (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily).

Free printing privileges at Stanford’s libraries will end this week as the University finishes its implementation of a new pay-to-print system. The new Stanford Print Service will allow printing and copying via a Stanford ID card or through a separate payment card available for visitors. New printers have been installed across campus to complete the transition.

While a phased implementation began over one year ago, technical difficulties delayed the full transition to the new payment system this fall. The Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning (VPTL) has been overseeing the printing transition.

During implementation, it took a little more time than initially planned to integrate the new visitor print card plan component of the new system into Stanford’s complex and robust IT environment,” said Judith Romero, director of communications and marketing for VPTL, in an email to The Daily.

Students returning for fall quarter in September were initially prompted to use the new pay system when attempting to print at University libraries. By Week 2, library officials had posted a message explaining that printing would be free during the transition.

The free printing was a courtesy intended for visiting researchers and alumni, according to VPTL.

While implementing this capability, we wanted to make printing available to researchers using the libraries who do not have a Stanford ID, so we made printing free in the libraries for a limited period of time,” Romero said.

Under the new Stanford Print Service, standard printing costs $0.10 per page, and copies are $0.13 per page. Students no longer need to visit to release their printed documents. Instead, customers can approve jobs and pay with their Stanford ID via the Stanford Card Plan or the new “Stanford Printing Card” — a cashless, pay-to-print system for visitors. Available at Green Library, library users can add money to their card by using a secure online payment system.

According to Romero, the new system improves management of supplies and servicing by monitoring usage rates across facilities and upgrading older machines.

“The hardware — the printers themselves — needed upgrading. The printing network software was outdated and needed to be replaced,” Romero said. “The cash payment system, used by those who can’t use the Stanford Card Plan (such as alumni or researchers visiting the libraries), was cumbersome and needed to be replaced, too.”

With the new system, users can also submit documents to be printed from personal laptops to any Stanford Print Service location across campus — without needing to add each printer to their computers’ settings. VPTL plans to extend this capability to smartphones and tablets in the future.

While free library printing was an unexpected perk for most students, some noticed an accompanying decrease in the amount of functioning printers at Green Library.

“Before my PWR class, I went to go print out my paper that was supposed to be peer-reviewed, said Zach Taylor ’18. “I went to three different printers and logged into each, and none of them worked. I ended up just going to class without my printed copy, 15 minutes late.”

Romero confirmed that the free printing period saw an increase in printing use but declined to cite specific figures. As for the out-of-order printers, she added, “As we switched over from the old system to the new, various printers were taken offline during the updates.”

The Stanford Print Service includes stations at the following locations: student residences, computer clusters, Lathrop Tech Desk, Lathrop 24-hour space, Green Library, the branch libraries and the second floor of Old Union. Further information on the system can be found at


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